Tag Archives: NHS

Profound Brexit implications for the UK’s Life Science industry

Last week I was hoping to hear Liam Fox speak on ‘Maintaining the UK life sciences’ leading position’ at a Royal Society of Medicine symposium ‘Brexit; the Implications for the UK’s Life Science Industry’.

He cancelled (what an (un)surprise). The implications for academia, industry and the NHS are profound.

Already universities, research institutes and individual researchers are feeling the chill, particularly for long term EU grants.

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Lib Dems to consider NHS tax #ldconf

The Liberal Democrats are to set up an independent expert panel to consider the case for a dedicated NHS and care tax,  Norman Lamb will announce in his Conference speech at Brighton later today.

Members of the ‘New Beveridge Group’ will include Dr. Clare Gerada, former President of the Royal College of GPs, Prof. Dinesh Bhugra, former President of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and current President of the World Psychiatric Association, Peter Carter, the former General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, and the chief executive of the Patients’ Association, Katherine Murphy.

It will report its recommendations to the party in six months’ time, presumably in time for Spring Conference.

Speaking to party members in Brighton, Lib Dem Health spokesperson Norman Lamb will say:

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What happened to sending £350million a week to the NHS?

 

It’s been seven weeks since the British public were visiting polling stations to make the biggest vote of their lifetime. Seven weeks since naïve Brexit supporters believed that £350 million a week would be spent on the NHS if their vote won.

I’m from a small market town in Lincolnshire, where 59.9% of the population voted to leave the EU in order to ‘take back control of our country’ and yesterday (Wednesday) it was announced that, as of next week, our A&E department will no longer be open 24 hours a day. Instead, the residents of Grantham, as well as surrounding towns and villages, will now have to travel approximately 30 miles to Boston, Nottingham or Lincoln if they are in need of medical care at night.

The reasoning behind this is due to the hospital being understaffed, yet the United Kingdom has just voted to potentially stop EU workers – who make up 5% of our NHS and 10% of our doctors – to enter our country without needing a visa. It really seems worth it now.

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Baroness Joan Walmsley writes…Will new PM’s actions speak louder than her words?

On Tuesday, just two days before parliament starts its recess and less than a week after Theresa May first addressed the commons as Prime Minister, Sir Simon Stevens, CEO of NHS England, wrote about his priorities for the NHS. 

For most of us his comments and overall strategy will seem eminently sensible. The question I ask myself is this: Will Theresa May’s government pay lip service to Simon Stevens’ strategy or will they actually commit to the funds and action needed to carry it through?

You might say I am being unduly cynical and that I am not giving this new PM a chance. You may be right, although keeping Mr Hunt as her Secretary of State for Health does not strike me as very smart, given that he is so toxic to the doctors.

Stevens expresses concerns about two policy areas in particular – obesity & mental health, both of which are not getting the focus they deserve.

He points out the vital importance of effective action on obesity. This is not a matter of the nanny state lecturing people on how much they should eat. This is a critical health issue that affects the whole health service, not just in terms of funding but through the need to treat a whole range of different diseases. Financially the cost to the Treasury is now more than the police and fire services combined. One result of the separation of our health care services into NHS, on the one hand, and local authority social care and public health responsibilities on the other, is that it is your under-funded local council’s job to prevent obesity but it is the NHS that has to treat the myriad of diseases that arise from it. However, there are strong rumours that the long-awaited obesity strategy has been weakened because of business lobbying since it was first mooted by the government last year, while the LGA reports that funding cuts are threatening councils’ ability to be effective in this and other areas of public health.

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Norman Lamb MP writes…Disastrous A & E figures emphasise need for independent commission on NHS future

Every day seems to bring new crushing evidence of the immense strain facing the NHS and social care. Missed key targets have become the norm rather than the exception; A&E is bearing the brunt of cuts to preventive and community services; and few were surprised when NHS trusts recently revealed a record deficit of £2.45 billion.

After hearing anecdotal accounts of ambulances queueing up outside A&E departments due to a lack of available beds in my own county of Norfolk, I decided to investigate the true scale of the problem across the whole country by submitting Freedom of Information requests to each Ambulance Trust in England.

What I discovered was far more shocking than I had feared. More than 10,000 patients were stuck in an ambulance for more than two hours waiting to be handed over to hospital staff last year – a staggering four-fold increase over just three years. The number of people having to endure waits of more than an hour before being admitted has almost trebled in the same period.

In total, almost 400,000 hours were wasted in the last year alone due to handover delays of more than 15 minutes, the national target for getting patients out of the ambulance and into the care of A&E staff. That’s equivalent to 16,554 days of patients waiting in limbo while ambulance crews and vehicles are unnecessarily tied up, unable to respond to new emergency calls.

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Let’s make the UK a better place for those with mental health challenges

 

Imagine being in a situation where you have had months of no sleep, you have lost over 15 kilos in weight when you were already under weight and you cannot do anything but ruminate over problems. You go to your GP, he gives you some shiny pills then tells you to book an appointment in a few weeks, and offers you no therapy or treatment. A few weeks later your mental health deteriorates to a point where you consider self-harm.

That was my story and I am lucky because I am here to tell it. I paid privately for treatment as the only other option was being sectioned under the Mental Health Act, which could have had devastating consequences for my financial and employment prospects. Luckily this episode is well behind me and my life has moved on to a much better place.

Sadly many cannot because they do not have the financial means, or support of family or friends to get through it. Around 4400 people end their own lives in England each year – that’s one death every two hours – and at least 10 times that number attempt suicide.

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Joan Walmsley writes…Planning for a healthy future

Hooray for Sir Simon Stevens, Head of NHS England, for putting into practice what I was proposing at last year’s Party Conference! In my keynote speech I maintained that the NHS cannot tackle the country’s current and future health problems by itself and we need a “whole government” approach. The Department of Health must be supported by policies from the Department of Communities and Local Government, the Department of Education, the Department of Transport, The Department of Culture, Media and Sport and, of course, local authorities, since it will not be able to tackle the increasing demand for healthcare by itself. Prevention of avoidable illnesses should be the responsibility of every Government department.

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Norman Lamb: Junior doctors can’t all be dismissed as militants

 

Junior doctors are to hold three more one-day strikes. The British Medical Association, which represents the doctors, has also announced that it is seeking a judicial review into the imposition of the new contract because the government failed to carry out an equalities impact study.

Norman Lamb has added his voice to the debate:

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Watch: Shirley Williams on retirement and how the government’s attitude to junior doctors could break NHS

Shirley on Victoria DerbyshireOn Thursday, her last day in the House of Lords before her retirement, Shirley Williams spent 20 minutes talking to Victoria Derbyshire.

You can watch the conversation, which covered women in politics, social media (she thinks that “the cruellest people in society” shouldn’t be given a voice), how some were bemused by her specialism in fields not traditionally done by women, such as nuclear proliferation, how we should take thousands of refugee children and relived the previous struggle over Ugandan refugees in the 70s when she stuck to her guns.

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Lamb: Government wrong to impose junior doctors’ contract

Norman Lamb has commented on Jeremy Hunt’s ill-advised decision to impose the controversial contract on junior doctors. He said:

It is a mistake to force a new contract on junior doctors when there is clearly still such strong opposition to its terms. There is a serious risk that large numbers of junior doctors will leave the NHS to go and work abroad, which will have serious consequences for the health service and patient safety.

Growing demand for services, coupled with a funding settlement which doesn’t keep up, are the fundamental problems facing health and care and yet the Government is refusing to take real action to address this.

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Lamb: Junior Doctors’ strike is a wake up call for the Governemnt

Norman Lamb has said that the Junior Doctors’ strike scheduled to take place from 8 am tomorrow should be a wake up call for the Government:

If strikes go ahead tomorrow this should be a wake-up call to the Government that it needs to take a more constructive approach to resolving this dispute. They cannot solve the capacity and funding problems in the NHS by forcing this contract on junior doctors.

Growing demand for services, coupled with a funding settlement which doesn’t keep up, are the fundamental problems facing health and care and yet the Government is refusing to take real action to address this.

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Lamb says Government needs to ‘see sense’ over commission for future of NHS

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The Greatest Show On Earth

 

From the great theatrical showman in Las Vegas to the street-hustlers on trestle tables asking tourists to watch the cups; misdirection, the foremost requirement of magic, is a deception in which the attention of an audience is focused on one thing in order to distract its attention from another.

No matter in what forum they perform, from street magicians to TV illusionists, magicians have the ability to use their skills to create something out of nothing, of reordering the universe to defy the rules of logic before our very eyes – and who knew that the Conservative government was creating the greatest show on earth.

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The junior doctors’ strike is about the existence and future of the NHS

I’d like to clarify a few points raised in the LDV comments thread related to the Doctors strike and Tim Farron’s remarks about it. First, I will state my potential conflict of interest: I’m a doctor (retired) a life-long member of the BMA (yes, I do still pay my union subscription) and my daughter is also a junior doctor.

The strike is happening because Jeremy Hunt has stated that he will impose a new contract on juniors against their will in August 2016. Negotiations, which have been conducted over the last three years with the BMA, have broken without any agreement and, thus, junior doctors are withdrawing their labour, as a last resort.

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Norman Lamb calls for a commission into the health and social care crisis

Norman Lamb Liverpool Spring conference Spring 2015 Photo by Liberal Democrats

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liberal Democrat Health Spokesperson Norman Lamb has launched proposals for an unprecedented cross party commission into health and social care.

Norman has received the backing from Conservative and Labour former Health Secretaries Stephen Dorrell and Alan Milburn and believes that only a full non-partisan commission will properly deal with the crisis in health and social care.

They have been joined in this call by NHS survival – a group of 8,000 doctors, patients and and members of the public committed to ensuring the survival of the health service.

The former care minister believes the commission would be a ‘Beveridge Report’ for the 21st Century, and be the first of its kind since the creation of the NHS and welfare state. Its aim is to engage with the public, staff in the NHS and care services and civic society on the massive challenge the NHS and care services face.

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The liberal case for the need to champion social services

As has become obvious to anyone who has read a newspaper or watched a news channel over the past 5 years, the NHS is straining under the weight of demand. With accident and emergency departments swamped, critical staffing levels and insufficient number of beds the national health provider is struggling to provide the excellent level of care that it is famed for. Alongside this, within the social services sector a perfect storm of an aging population, increased numbers of people living with long-term conditions, squeezed local authority budgets, discrepancies between the fees paid by private clients and local councils, high staff turnover and increased overhead costs has meant that for both systems the current situation is completely unsustainable.

While the government has already committed to increased spending on the NHS by £10bn per year in real terms by 2020/21 social care falls under the budget of local services and so they will continue to wither on the vine. As mentioned in a previous article, ‘Why we should care about Care’ both services work hand-in-hand, and a true integration could see money saved, lives improved and pressure reduced on both the NHS and local councils and their social services. 

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Privatisation: Keeping the NHS afloat

 

Privatisation. It’s a word which strikes fear into the hearts of progressives everywhere. Perhaps understandably so; previous governments have made a complete mess of privatising our NHS. From signing contracts for building hospitals without reading the small print to providing poor healthcare, privatisation has often been a failure.

That doesn’t mean it can’t be done though and it certainly doesn’t mean it isn’t needed. The uncomfortable truth is that our beloved NHS is unsustainable. Expenditure on healthcare has rocketed from £75 billion in 2000 to almost £130 billion in 2013. As healthcare improves, the number of elderly patients served by the health service increases. It is a vicious cycle.

So what is the liberal solution? Let’s look at the solutions politicians are currently trying. Increasing taxation regularly to fund the NHS is fundamentally illiberal and unsustainable – it puts an unnecessary and unfair burden on workers. The only other option is borrowing the funds. That is clearly also unsustainable as it is merely kicking the problem into the long grass.

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Lamb on junior doctors’ vote in favour of strike action: Government has “woefully mismanaged” negotiation

Today, it was announced that junior doctors had voted in favour of strike action by an overwhelming majority. 98% were in favour of action which will begin on 1st December.

Norman Lamb has condemned the Government’s handling of the situation and told Jeremy Hunt to do everything he could to avert the strike:

It’s a serious concern that we have reached a point where junior doctors are prepared to take strike action. The Government has woefully mismanaged this contract negotiation and Jeremy Hunt must act urgently to resolve the dispute. Everything possible must be done to avert the strike which could damage patient care.

It is legitimate to review working practices to ensure they best meet patients’ needs. However these proposals could mean less protection and a cut in pay for those junior doctors expected to work extremely long hours. That is clearly not in the best interests of patients or of NHS staff.

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LibLink: Shirley Williams tells George Osborne that he has 10 days to save the NHS

 

Writing in the Guardian, Shirley Williams picks up the baton passed on by Nigel Crisp, the former chief executive of the NHS, who four years ago wrote about his experiences in his book 24 Hours to Save the NHS.

Shirley explains that many of the financial woes in the NHS have been inherited from past schemes:

For example, the number of funded places for young men and women training in this country as nurses was cut by 12% – 2,500 places – in 2012. The consequent shortage of newly qualified nurses has been filled by people recruited by employment agencies. The cost of agency staff is one of the main reasons for overspending by NHS trusts. In 2014/15, agency staff cost the NHS £1,770m, a year-on-year increase of 29%.

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Lunchtime debate – should e-cigs be prescribed by NHS?

On 16th September, it’ll be 17 years since I last had a cigarette. I was one of those smokers who never really wanted to give up, who really enjoyed a cigarette. However, my consumption was a bit worrying – at least a pack of 20 a day.

It was pregnancy which forced my hand. From the moment I saw the positive test, I have not had another cigarette. That doesn’t mean that I never want one. Even after all this time, the smell can (especially after a few wines) set off all the old cravings. Giving up just like that was far from easy and I doubt I would ever have managed it if I hadn’t had that overwhelming incentive to do so. I daren’t have even one or I think that road back to a pack a day would be very short.

I had no choice but to just give up without any help other than the daily “I really want a cigarette, talk to me until the craving goes away” phone calls to various people. They were remarkably effective, by the way. In the same circumstances, that would be the same today. I wouldn’t be able to use e-cigarettes. Evidence suggests, however, that they are 95% less harmful than ordinary cigarettes and can help people give up smoking for good.

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Kirsty Williams AM writes… An ambitious Liberal Democrat plan for the NHS Welsh people need

Today at the Royal Welsh Show I launched our party’s 3 point-plan for Wales’ NHS that puts patients first.

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have a wide range of policies and proposals for reforms to improve our health service, but today I wanted to highlight the three key parts of our plans for the NHS ahead of next year’s Assembly elections.

The 3-point plan is as follows:

Guaranteed access to your GP: People are fed up of finding it a real struggle to make an appointment and to access their GP.  In this day and age, everyone should be able to make an appointment easily – that is what the Welsh Liberal Democrats will deliver. We would properly invest in an ‘Access to GPs’ scheme to guarantee a prompt appointment and extend GP opening hours.

End mental health discrimination: I am proud that our party has led on this issue across the UK. Only last month the Welsh Liberal Democrats revealed that in just two years there has been a 472% increase in young people waiting over 14 weeks to receive mental health services. That is a disgrace, which is why we would oversee a culture change to ensure mental health is treated on a par with physical health. We would ensure that patients with mental health issues have an equal right to access treatments as those requiring physical care.

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Greg Mulholland’s row with the Speaker – the obvious solution

Yesterday, Leeds MP Greg Mulholland tried to ask a question about the availability of a drug to treat a constituent’s rare disease – and was prevented from doing so by the Speaker for being “long-winded.”  ITV News has the story:

Speaker John Bercow had warned Mr Mulholland to be quick in his statement but after referring to missed decision dates given to families by health authorities, the Lib Dem was told to resume his seat.

Six-year-old Sam Brown from Otley. Sam, who has Morquio syndrome needs Vimazim treatment, mentioned by Mr Mulholland, but NHS England deferred a decision over whether to provide the drug, then last week announced it would wait for guidance from NICE, the health body consulting on the drug.

There is a video of the exchange on the ITV site and, to be honest, I’m quite annoyed with John Bercow. Greg was no more long-winded than many of the other questions that day – Hansard has the details so you can see for yourself. All Greg had said before he was interrupted was this:

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Opinion: Why we should care about Care

The declining state of residential and nursing care system in this country is, like so many services, something that has been bundled into the welfare cuts introduced by the Coalition – and now that the Conservatives have a majority it is set to worsen.

While the Tories have promised billions of pounds to the NHS an equally pressing (and in many ways the more important) concern is the lack of social services support on which most preventative and after-care services rely.

In the case of the elderly, if a person living alone has a fall within their own home and are taken to hospital they are not allowed to return until a social worker has done an appraisal to make sure they will be safe living alone. Due to the pressure this puts on already over-stretched local social services not all of these assessments can be undertaken promptly and  leads to elderly patients (who do not have anything physically wrong with them) taking up hospital beds in a number of departments – and more critically in A&E departments.

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Opinion: Towards a sustainable NHS

The NHS is one of Britain’s success stories and is the envy of the world. However, we are continually told that the NHS is in crisis and unless we have significant spending increases it will cease to exist as we know. With a growing and ageing population and a reluctance to fork out more money in tax it is clear that this problem will not go away without radical proposals.

It seems that finally we are getting somewhere. On Wednesday Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of the NHS, said that it was a ‘no brainer’ to try and prevent illness rather than …

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Opinion: Conservative health policies are short on detail

What have the Conservatives said on health so far? Their manifesto makes big promises – but is vague on detail.

NHS England’s Five Year Forward View called for £8 billion more annually by 2020 (alongside £22 billion efficiency savings) to maintain NHS standards.

Liberal Democrats were the first to sign up to this – and we set out clearly how to fund it. The Conservatives matched this – but give no details on funding this other than the ‘recovering economy’.

Lamb also called for a (much-needed!) cross-party Review of NHS & Social Care funding.

David Cameron yesterday proposed 7-day hospital services and 7-day extended hours GP access, offering 5,000 extra GP’s.

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You don’t have to choose between the NHS and the Economy…

…as this infographic from Richard Morris reminds us. It definitely deserves a wider audience.

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38 Degrees take another step to putting right their NHS mistake

Further to my post this morning, 38 Degrees have made another step to making amends for their mistake on the NHS. However, they have had to be dragged at every stage.

They have retweeted a graphic produced for them by Lancashire Lib Dem Paul Valentine, and have been tweeting it to people who have complained at their lack of response.

It’s only taken them five days.

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Guardian’s coverage of Liberal Democrat General Election campaign accentuates the negative

So what does the Guardian do to cheer itself up when a poll has shown Labour support is falling? Ah yes, they just write about how rubbish life is for the Liberal Democrats. Words like perilous, doom and resigned are peppered through the piece. I’m not suggesting that our prospects are the best they’ve ever been, but so much of what’s written about us is not so much “glass half empty” but “no liquid anywhere near the glass.”

I’d like to think that when Patrick Wintour and Nick Watt were doing their research for this, they were shown the vibrant Team 2015 operation, the busy and spirited things going on across the country in our key seats and that they just chose not to write about it because it doesn’t fit in with the pessimistic narrative. There are many things about the party’s campaigning that it can take a huge amount of pride in. There are bright and talented people in HQ who are doing the best they can with the material available to them. Did Wintour and Watt get to talk to the Austin Rathes and Steve Jollys of this world? I hope so.

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LibLink: Norman Lamb: Let’s ditch the rhetoric and do a deal on the NHS

Norman Lamb takes to the pages of today’s Independent on Sunday to make a plea to replace political heat with non-partisan light in the debate over the future of the NHS. He outlines what is currently happening:

Labour is pulling out all the stops to convince voters that the NHS is in crisis – a basket case run by private firms working to destroy it; the party searches for negative statistics and hospital horror stories to fit its narrative. On the other hand, the Conservatives have failed to come up with a plan to meet the £8bn shortfall by 2020 identified by Simon Stevens, the chief executive of the NHS.

But the NHS is far too important to be treated as a political football. The truth is that it’s neither on the verge of disintegration, nor is everything perfect. There are problems, but also triumphs. The majority of patients, for the majority of the time, receive world-class care from dedicated staff.

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Opinion: Time to dump the 4 hour A & E target

To be frank, as a doctor, I have been underwhelmed by our Liberal Democrat offering on health issues over the years; certainly we are not as strong on health as we should be.

The almost daily drip feed from the right wing press on NHS shortcomings and failures is demoralising to staff and frightening to patients and designed to be so. It serves no-one except those who want to undermine the public’s confidence in the NHS. The service treats three quarters of a million patients every day of the year, and for most people there is no alternative.

So I am  relieved that at last we have something distinctive to offer with Norman Lamb’s ideas on mental health; parity of access and delivery, more  research and funding. This is important, and we need to ‘own’ it as Liberal Democrat policy.

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